"Driving Miss Vicky" is a T-Bone novella, about T-Bone and Vicky Welf's trip into the Coyote Nation compound.
The Fresno airport was perfect as far as Tyson was concerned.
Just big enough to get you where you needed to go, but not big enough that it had ever lost its little-big-town charm. King Henry would have called it an airport worthy of a shithole, but then . . . he called everything a shithole.
Tyson had a different view on it all. He was born and raised in the town, and yes, it did have its problems with poverty and theft and gangs, it also always seemed to be the butt of jokes from Los Angelinos and San Franciscans—it wasn’t some perfect little town—but it was in the odd place of having some big city advantages without having big city disadvantages. Like having a working airport where you could actually park your car and enter inside of it without having a massive security pat down every five feet.
Tyson was ten minutes early—he was always ten minutes early—so he bought himself and Vicky a cup of coffee from a small cart inside of the airport waiting room and sat down at an empty bench. He hadn’t a clue what Vicky put in her coffee . . . or if she even drank coffee . . . Yet she’s supposed to be my girlfriend, is she? Tyson grumbled to himself. King Henry had a much looser definition on that term. King Henry was also more likely to find himself having lots of amazing, mind-blowing sex with a stranger than Tyson, but, well . . . they had sort of traded places in Vegas on that front.
Though we did talk a lot too . . . she’s not a stranger at all really . . . I just don’t know her as well as I will one day . . .
Tyson liked Vicky. Victoria. Lady von Welf. He still wasn’t sure which he should call her. She smiled when King Henry used the nickname, but never frowned when her brother used her full name either. Tyson felt like he was in the middle. He could see both girls. Vicky, the free spirited spectro-artist. Victoria, the noble lady of House Welf. He liked her. Liked both of them. Maybe more than liked them . . . girlfriend . . . he would like that too.
It was just a . . . thing . . . a King Henry thing . . . and maybe it will be another King Henry thing this weekend, but that doesn’t mean it’s more than that, he told himself to fight off rising expectations. He wasn’t as inexperienced with women as King Henry liked to tease him about. Tyson actually had a three-year long relationship at the Asylum, which was more than King Henry could ever say about the subject.
He wasn’t some romantic fool of a geek who fell in love the moment a woman showed interest in him . . . it’s just . . . he did like her. Especially all the talking. And . . . the King Henry thing hadn’t been so bad . . .
Other than him walking in on us the one time.
A plane landed on the runway. Not Vicky’s plane. Apparently, the Welfs had a pair of small jets just for their personal use. More proof that I might be an Ultra and a businessman and firmly middle-class, but I would be fooling myself if I thought Victoria von Welf would ever have more than a fling with me, even if she wanted to. She wasn’t like that, he knew, but . . . her brother surely was and her parents would be even worse. Plus there’s the race thing . . . especially with King Henry running around spewing jokes left and right about my big black wang . . .
Seriously, T-Bone, that thing is so big that I think Vicky should get a purple heart . . . or maybe a purple vagina!
Hey, T-Bone, what up? Trip on your dick lately?
So your dad’s Asian and you’re packing the BBC, even as a baby I’m betting, do you think there’s any chance yours was bigger when they adopted you, or did it at least take you till like four or five to eclipse the old man’s tool?
Tyson took a sip of his coffee as the passengers filed out of one of two airports gates. If you wanted on a plane then of course you had to go through a line of metal detectors, but just waiting you had a whole central area to explore. True to Fresno form, the airport designers had built a massive redwood forest display in the middle of it, trying to show off how close the city was to Yosemite Valley National Park.
Tyson had been once as a child, back before the Asylum, when family vacation was a possibility. Not necessarily a bad thing that it’s not much of a possibility anymore, given the vacation I just tried to take ended up the way it did. He remembered it differently as a child, alone with his parents in the car; heading all over California’s many destinations. Theme parks had been his favorite, a two-week trip to Disney World when he was twelve winning the top spot. Nature . . . he had never been much into nature. Less into it now that I know Half Dome might have a dimensional portal to a dragon’s lair inside of it!
Rides, mechanisms, video games: those were what he enjoyed. Both riding them and figuring out how they worked. Planes and the airport were included in all this. Before the Trade Towers fell, back when Tyson was quite little, his father used to pack up a laptop and drag Tyson to the airport, where you could sit truly close to the runway, ooohing and awwwing over the planes as they landed nearby.
I suppose even Fresno had to grow up and get a tiny amount of security installed after that dark day . . .
“Is that extra cup for me? I’m so thirsty!”
Tyson blinked in shock as Vicky appeared from a crowd of normal coach passengers, only to pick up her coffee cup and tilt it back like she’d recently crossed the Sahara instead of the United States in an American Airlines 777. She put up a finger while she gulped mouthful by mouthful, forestalling questions.
Tyson stood up from his bench, asking one anyway. “I thought you had your own jet? I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to pick you up at the normal gates . . .”
“Brother’s resolve broke last night and he finally told Mother about what the two of us did in Las Vegas,” Vicky explained while taking a big breath to refill her lungs, all before attacking the second half of what remained in the coffee cup.
“Wha . . . .what?”
Another breath. “I know! I’m so mad at him! I’m protecting your honor! Even for a Welf, what year does he think it is?”
“Wha . . . what exactly did he tell her about me . . . exactly?”
It was Vicky’s turn blink at him as she causally tossed her empty coffee cup in a recycling bin. “That we had sex.”
“Oh . . . right, we did do that.”
“And that I would have even more sex with you when I arrive in Fresno.”
“ . . . And . . . and did he guess correctly about this?”
“I mean, who does Brother think he is?” Vicky Welf asked the entire universe, not so much Tyson Bonnie, who was again trying to keep himself from getting his hopes up about more fling, if not more between the pair of them. “Do you remember how he was hanging all over Veronica? Mother never approved of him having an Intra for a lover and now he’s indignant when I spent time with someone who’s a Second Tier Ultra?”
Tyson frowned as he tried to work through the culture differences of normal-ish people butting up against Old Mancy families, all without shooting the Not-So-White elephant in the room. “It’s only about me being just an Electromancer then?”
“No . . . it’s not about any of their complaints about you really: either that you’re King Henry’s friend and are somehow tainted by the association or that you’re interested in me for my money or that you’re only Second Tier or First Generation and, what would my fifteen-year-dead grandfather say about it? Well, why don’t we go collect his skull and ask him? Mostly it’s just about the fact that you have a penis and that it’s been between my legs in my precious, Welf, baby-spewing womb.”
“It has . . . indeed . . . been there,” Tyson confirmed blankly, at a loss of words even more than when he was around King Henry.
“And who does Mother think she is?” Vicky kept going. “Telling me I should have saved my virginity for my husband! I’ve counted the months from her and Father’s wedding to Brother being born! Eight! I told her so too this time! You should have seen the look on her face . . . I’ve never seen her so angry before . . .”
Manners and feelings he dared not speak of warred inside of Tyson, as always manners won out. “I don’t want to come between you and your family. I—”
Complaining partly out of the way, Vicky seemed to realize they were together in one space again and suddenly threw herself at him. Part hug, part leaping kiss, for once Tyson was glad he was as tall and as heavy as he was or they both might have fallen to the floor. Vicky was rather well built herself, if not over built like Tyson. When she jumped or bumped or grabbed you, you very much felt her muscles and her weight behind it. He just barely managed to keep them upright until she pulled back, a smile on her face.
“Don’t ever say that again, Tyson,” she ordered like she expected him to do exactly as she told him.
“I’m never sure where I stand with you,” he admitted. “It always seems like you’re nicer than any person should be, Victoria, especially to me.”
“Don’t ever say that again too,” she ordered him again before pulling his head down for another kiss.
“We’re making a scene,” he mumbled around her lips.
She pulled away reluctantly. “It’s good you have such wonderful decorum, I seem to be losing mine the older I get. Throwing that barb at Mother . . . what was I thinking? It’s my own fault really. I should have just lied about it all, claimed you were busy and that I was going alone. But then Brother would have tried to invite himself just to be sure and they really shouldn’t talk about you. I do have a temper, believe it or not. Brother, Mother, and King Henry on occasion set it off and I just do the emotional thing . . . not the Welf thing . . .”
Tyson finally got a moment to study her. Or better to say he got a moment to recover from her sudden arrival. Vicky had mentioned King Henry making her angry, but the one trait both of them had in common was the ability to blow over a person and dominate an introduction. And let that always be where the comparison ends, dear Mancy, Tyson prayed silently.
The last time he had seen her, she had been at her most formal, wearing a black dress for Jason Jackson’s funeral. Now, she wore white for the most part: white pants that were somewhere between full length and shorts—Tyson would never be accused as a fashion expert—a white, wool knit top that hung loose on her—capris, that’s what the pants were called, weren’t they?—a white belt with a cross pattern of golden studs made of real gold knowing the Welfs, and platform sandals on her not-so-dainty feet. Her only deference to the fact that, March though it may now be, it still wasn’t quite yet spring, was a knitted scarf thrown around her neck, which was colored like a rainbow—not in a Gay Pride way, but in a Spectromancer uniform kind of way.
“Was I meant to wear blue and yellow and missed the hint?” he teased her.
She smiled up at him, taking in his usual khakis and sweater-vest, perhaps more stringently ironed than usual. “If I had my way, you would be wearing nothing at all, Tyson, but I daresay that would cause more of a scene than the one you’ve already complained about.”
He barely managed to keep from blushing, falling back on manners. “Would you like another coffee?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed at the idea. “Then we need to find your car and I’ll tell you about how I escaped!”
“You . . . escaped?”
“It’s not like I was locked in my room,” Vicky hurried forestalled, “but Mother wouldn’t let me borrow her jet after I called her a whore.”
“You . . . called your mother a whore?”
“Well, she insinuated that I was one and then I rebutted, as I said earlier. Can I use this card thingy for the coffee? They wouldn’t let me buy drinks on the plane with it, just the ticket. Do you think we can get some of those pastries too? All I’ve had is peanuts since I left the Mansion.”
Feb 1st! Month away!